I've heard lots of job seekers complain about employers not inviting them for interviews & I find that rather funny. Some even go as far as being precise, giving out number of applications put out in comparison to the number of interview invites they have received.
The fact that Nigeria is saddled with the burden of unemployment despite it's imploding population does not mean you cannot get yourself a job if truly you're doing it the right way. Now imagine a graduate who applied for different jobs all through a whole year with just a single CV. Awkward, isn't it? Or imagine a job seeker seeking for different job positions with a common CV. Ridiculous, I must say.
It's only a fool that expects different results while maintaining same input. Applying for jobs all through a year and not getting at least one invite clearly shows there is a problem somewhere, most times, the CV is the problem.
Now, take your time to read throught the list of tips on how to prepare a good CV and you may also find tons of possible reasons you don't get interview invites:
A CV is the most flexible and convenient way to make applications. It conveys your personal details in the way that presents you in the best possible light. A CV is a marketing document in which you are marketing something: yourself! You need to "sell" your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to employers. It can be used to make multiple applications to employers in a specific career area. For this reason, many large graduate recruiters will not accept CVs and instead use their own application form. What information should a CV include? What are the most important aspects of CV that you look for?
One survey of employers found that the following aspects were most looked for
- 45% Previous related work experience
- 35% Qualifications & skills
- 25% Easy to read
- 16% Accomplishments
- 14% Spelling & grammar
- 9% Education (these were not just graduate recruiters or this score would be much higher!)
- 9% Intangibles: individuality/desire to succeed
- 3% Clear objective
- 2% Keywords added
- 1% Contact information
- 1% Personal experiences
- 1% Computer skills
Normally these would be your name, address, date of birth (although with age discrimination laws now in force this isn't essential), telephone number and email.
British CVs don't usually include a photograph unless you are an actor. In European countries such as France, Belgium and Germany it’s common for CVs to include a a passport-sized photograph in the top right-hand corner whereas in the UK and the USA photographs are frowned upon as this may contravene equal opportunity legislation - a photograph makes it easier to reject a candidate on grounds of ethnicity, sex or age. If you do include a photograph it should be a head and shoulders shot, you should be dressed suitably and smiling: it's not for a passport! See our Work Abroad page for more about international CVsEducation and qualifications
Some employers may spend as little as 45 seconds skimming a résumé before branding it “not of interest”, “maybe” or “of interest.
Your degree subject and university, plus A levels and GCSEs or equivalents. Mention grades unless poor!Work experience
- Use action words such as developed, planned and organised.
- Even work in a shop, bar or restaurant will involve working in a team, providing a quality service to customers, and dealing tactfully with complaints. Don't mention the routine, non-people tasks (cleaning the tables) unless you are applying for a casual summer job in a restaurant or similar.
- Try to relate the skills to the job. A finance job will involve numeracy, analytical and problem solving skills so focus on these whereas for a marketing role you would place a bit more more emphasis on persuading and negotiating skills.
- All of my work experiences have involved working within a team-based culture. This involved planning, organisation, coordination and commitment e.g., in retail, this ensured daily sales targets were met, a fair distribution of tasks and effective communication amongst all staff members.
Interests and achievements
Writing about your interests
- Reading, cinema, stamp-collecting, playing computer games
- Suggests a solitary individual who doesn't get on with other people. This may not be true, but selectors will interpret the evidence they see before them.
- Cinema: member of the University Film-Making Society
- Travel: travelled through Europe by train this summer in a group of four people, visiting historic sites and practising my French and Italian
- Reading: helped younger pupils with reading difficulties at school.
This could be the same individual as in the first example, but the impression is completely the opposite: an outgoing proactive individual who helps others.
- Keep this section short and to the point. As you grow older, your employment record will take precedence and interests will typically diminish greatly in length and importance.
- Bullets can be used to separate interests into different types: sporting, creative etc.
- Don't use the old boring cliches here: "socialising with friends".
- Don't put many passive, solitary hobbies (reading, watching TV, stamp collecting) or you may be perceived as lacking people skills. If you do put these, then say what you read or watch: "I particularly enjoy Dickens, for the vivid insights you get into life in Victorian times".
- Show a range of interests to avoid coming across as narrow : if everything centres around sport they may wonder if you could hold a conversation with a client who wasn't interested in sport.
- Hobbies that are a little out of the ordinary can help you to stand out from the crowd: skydiving or mountaineering can show a sense of wanting to stretch yourself and an ability to rely on yourself in demanding situations
- Any interests relevant to the job are worth mentioning: current affairs if you wish to be a journalist; a fantasy share portfolio such as Bullbearings if you want to work in finance.
- Any evidence of leadership is important to mention: captain or coach of a sports team, course representative, chair of a student society, scout leader: "As captain of the school cricket team, I had to set a positive example, motivate and coach players and think on my feet when making bowling and field position changes, often in tense situations"
- Anything showing evidence of employability skills such as team working, organising, planning, persuading, negotiating etc.
- The usual ones to mention are languages (good conversational French, basic Spanish), computing (e.g. "good working knowledge of MS Access and Excel, plus basic web page design skills" and driving ("full current clean driving licence").
- If you are a mature candidate or have lots of relevant skills to offer, a skills-based CV may work for you
- Many employers don’t check references at the application stage so unless the vacancy specifically requests referees it's fine to omit this section completely if you are running short of space or to say "References are available on request."
- Normally two referees are sufficient: one academic (perhaps your tutor or a project supervisor) and one from an employer (perhaps your last part-time or summer job). See our page on Choosing and Using Referees for more help with this.
The order and the emphasis will depend on what you are applying for and what you have to offer. For example, the example media CV lists the candidate's relevant work experience first.
When asked what would make them automatically reject a candidate, employers said:
- CVs with spelling mistakes or typos 61%
- CVs that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting 41%
- CVs with an inappropriate email address 35%
- CVs that don’t include a list of skills 30%
- CVs that are more than two pages long 22%
- CVs printed on decorative paper 20%
- CVs that detail more tasks than results for previous positions 16%
- CVs that include a photo 13%
- CVs that have large blocks of text with little white space 13%
- What mistakes do candidates make on their CV?
- One survey of employers found the following mistakes were most common
- Spelling and grammar 56% of employers found this
- Not tailored to the job 21%
- Length not right & poor work history 16%
- Poor format and no use of bullets 11%
- No accomplishments 9%
- Contact & email problems 8%
- Objective/profile was too vague 5%
- Lying 2%
- Having a photo 1%
- Choose a sensible email address!
- One survey found that 76% of CVs with unprofessional email addresses are ignored. Here are some (modified) graduate email addresses that you should NOT emulate!
- Others 3% (listing all memberships, listing personal hobbies, using abbreviations)
If you are applying for more than one type of work, you should have a different CV tailored to each career area, highlighting different aspects of your skills and experience.
A personal profile at the start of the CV can work for jobs in competitive industries such as the media or advertising, to help you to stand out from the crowd. If used, it needs to be original and well written. Don’t just use the usual hackneyed expressions: “I am an excellent communicator who works well in a team…… “
This Article is a joint effort of Adeeko Ademola Abayomi
with Excerpts from a University of Kent